No combined ticket to a Belgian festival costs more than a Rock Werchter ticket and the price has gone up again this year. But other organizations have reported more steep price increases in recent months. The rising costs of logistics in particular are setting ticket prices into the new normal.
The chips will be hot, the pints will be cold, and Eddie Vader will be in good shape, but not everything on the Rock Werchter 46 is the same as it was before Corona. The festival has become much more expensive. Anyone who recently bought a ticket to the four-day event had to pay €266: €23 or 9 per cent more than in 2019.
Organizer Hermann Scheuermanns announced the increase in November last year and attributed it to higher costs. By comparison: between November 2018 and November 2021, the year the increase was announced before, the index rose “only” by 6.6 percent. Therefore, the price of the Rock Werchter rose faster than the standard of living of the average Belgian citizen. So the festival remains the most expensive festival in the country, but if you divide the ticket price by the number of festival days, Tomorrowland is still much more: €87.1 versus €66.5 per day. Scheuermanns & Co.. Also our northern neighbors of the promoters: Pinkpop asked for 245 euros for three days (81.7 euros per day) and even the smaller Best Kept Secret is priced at 68 euros per day.
Moreover, prices for almost all large and medium-sized festivals rose more sharply than they had in Werchter, according to a sample of the morning In the eighteenth of Flemish and Dutch events. A combined ticket for Pukkelpop costs 245 euros, or 20 percent more than three years ago. In the same period, the cost of three days of Couleur Café became 12 percent. Then there’s Liege hip-hop festival Les Ardentes: from €132.5 in 2019 to €187 today, more than 40 percent. Tomorrowland raised its prices by a modest 5 percent, but the organization has already been able to fill weekends with people who have converted their tickets from 2020.
The fact that the price of a Rock Werchter ticket is rising less quickly is of course because the festival has already become very expensive. The value of a Combi ticket for the Rock Werchter has risen from 160 to 266 euros (plus 66 percent) in the past 15 years, while the index has only risen 54 percent in that time. Three days of Pukkelpop is 85 percent more expensive today than it was in 2007. That year, a beer at Rock Werchter cost €2. Today you pay 3.25 euros up front for a voucher, which drops to 62.5 percent more.
And the relative price increase isn’t everything. Reggae Geel is 23 percent more expensive and cactus 12.5 percent, but it’s about the same 15 euros. Festivals have also sometimes changed during the pandemic. Friday Extrema Outdoor turned from a massive camping party into a full day of celebration. Les Ardentes topped their bill three years ago with somewhat dated Black Eyed Peas and the late Juice Wrld, while next week they bill the summer’s most relevant hip-hop: Asap Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion, Stromae and Tyler, the creator.
Some festivals compensate for the higher prices by introducing additional holiday days, so that the price per day per set becomes cheaper. For example, a weekend at WECANDANCE in Zeebrugge will be 4 euros more expensive, but visitors who are willing to pay 200 euros for weekends will be cheaper. Same story in Graspop, which celebrated its birthday with four days instead of three. Rock Zottegem offers the third day, but two days of the festival still cost 95 euros. “The most important for us is that we are and remain a sympathetic festival,” said organizer Cort de Lore.
The question remains why festival prices should rise faster than inflation. Everyone who has wondered about this in recent years has gotten an answer that the bands on the bill are causing prices to go up. “Artists don’t sell anything anymore. So where should they get their income? From live performances,” Hermann Scheuermanns said in 2006 in this newspaper.
According to Jill De Decker of Paradise City, who has made the combi ticket 8 percent more expensive since 2019, “20 to 30 percent” of the price increase is still due to bands. Timothy Heyninck from Lokerse Feesten Nuances: “Artists index their prices and those of the team they’re traveling with, of course, but I don’t see a sudden surge. We particularly note that light and sound suppliers, for example, are asking too much. Hourly wages for technicians have increased. This, of course, has been passed on.”
Patrick Kersibelk of Cactusfestival in Bruges adds: “Many professionals have left the live broadcasting sector during the Corona crisis and those who remain can place higher orders. Years later, we had to look for a new stage builder: this price was immediately increased by two and a half years. The price was set This year’s ticket is at a time when not all offers have been received yet. In hindsight, we should have raised it a little higher to make ends meet.”
Music lover and broken? Hope is still alive. Even after Corona, a lot of great festivals like Boomtown, Grensrock, Crisis Festival, Absolutely Free Festival, Boomtown, de Fonnefeesten, Maanrock and Dioniss will still be free.
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